NEW YORK, July 17 — Wall Street ended lower yesterday, weighed down by declines in Amazon, Apple and other heavyweight technology stocks, while investors worried about a rise in coronavirus cases tied to the highly contagious Delta variant.
On Thursday, Los Angeles County said it would reimpose its mask mandate this weekend. Yesterday, public health officials said US coronavirus cases were up 70 per cent over the previous week, with deaths up 26 per cent.
Cruise lines Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line both fell about 5 per cent.
“Covid is starting to affect the market, ironically, for the first time since last summer, when the reopening trade began,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Amazon and Apple fell more than 1 per cent. Nvidia lost 4.2 per cent, and the three companies contributed more than any others to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq’s declines. The S&P 500 technology sector index lost almost 1 per cent, dipping for a second session after hitting a record on Wednesday.
The utilities index rallied 1 per cent, while the real estate index edged up 0.1 per cent and touched an intraday record high.
This week, investors have balanced worries about a recent inflation spike with reassurances from Fed Chair Jerome Powell that the surge in prices is temporary.
Second-quarter earnings season picks up next week, with reports from companies including Netflix, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon Communications, AT&T and Intel.
Analysts on average expect 72 per cent growth in earnings per share for S&P 500 companies, according to IBES estimate data from Refinitiv.
With the S&P 500 up about 15 per cent so far this year, investors will look for strong company forecasts to justify sky-high valuations.
“It’s been hard for the market to gain here from these already elevated prices,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.
The S&P 500 energy sector index sank nearly 3 per cent and ended the week 8 per cent lower, with investors worried about expectations for more supply and a rise in coronavirus cases that raised demand concerns.
Data from the Commerce Department showed retail sales rebounded 0.6 per cent last month as spending is shifting back to services, bolstering expectations that economic growth accelerated in the second quarter.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.86 per cent to end at 34,687.85 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.75 per cent to 4,327.16.
The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.8 per cent to 14,427.24.
For the week, the S&P 500 fell about 1 per cent, the Dow lost 0.5 per cent and the Nasdaq shed 1.9 per cent, their fist weekly declines in four weeks.
Moderna Inc jumped 10.3 per cent to a record high after S&P Dow Jones Indices said the drugmaker will join the S&P 500 index as of the start of trading on July 21, replacing Alexion Pharmaceuticals.
Cintas Corp surged 4.6 per cent after brokerages raised price targets on the business service provider’s stock following its fourth-quarter results.
Didi Global Inc fell 3.2 per cent after China sent state officials from at least seven departments to the ride-hailing giant for a cybersecurity review.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.42-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.21-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 48 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 46 new highs and 124 new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 9.3 billion shares, compared with the 10.3 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. — Reuters